Derek is a computer services technician, located in Ashland, who works with individuals and businesses around the Rogue Valley. He is extremely knowledgeable and easy to communicate with, earning my business, and that of many others. The best part about working with Derek is that he is friendly, fun, and skilled. He understands how to get to the heart of the problem and gets the job done in a timely and efficient manner. Derek works both on Mac and PC, and all mobile technology, including iPads, tablets, and smartphones. He assists local business owners with small and large scale computer projects.
Derek, thanks for talking with us today. To start us off, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you first got started in computers?
I remember back when I was 7 years old and my dad brought home a Macintosh SE. I was so fascinated with it and wanted to learn more about this amazing machine. I started out playing games like Dark Castle and Shufflepuck Cafe. Soon I found myself programming using software called Hypercard.
Everything had to be figured out by trial and error, since there was no World Wide Web at that time. I familiarized myself with MS-DOS, which worked much differently than the Mac system. It took me awhile, but I was determined to find out all I could about both operating systems. It was so fascinating to me that I didn’t want to stop learning more.
Over time, computers started to evolve with color screens and more advanced programs. I concentrated more on Windows, rather than Mac, because at the time there were more software titles, and the games were richer and more complex.
As time went on, I became really proficient with Windows and how to operate it. I recently re-educated myself with Mac OS X because I was working in an environment where only Macs were used. I realized that Apple had made a number of improvements to their product, including redesigning the entire operating system to make it more secure and user-friendly.
How and when did you start your own computer services company? How did you come up with the name for your business, and what significance does it have?
I began thinking more and more about venturing out on my own. After moving to Ashland, a close friend came up with the idea of starting my own business. He recommended that I make up business cards and a flyer advertising my services, then personally go out to businesses in the area to introduce myself and explain my scope of services. I also joined the Chamber of Commerce and started to advertise in the LocalsGuide. This helped get the word out and my business started to grow.
Integrity, honesty, and fairness were the the most important qualities of my business. I chose the name “Personalized Computer Solutions” because I wanted the name to reflect what I was offering. My goal has been to provide the best solutions to every project that I take on.
How has it been working with the businesses and people of Ashland?
It’s been awesome! The past 5 and ½ years have been more rewarding than I ever anticipated. I never imagined that everyone could be so friendly and supportive. Working with businesses and individuals has been a great experience for me.
Can you give us a little overview of the types of services you provide for both businesses and residents?
Sure, here are some of my specialties:
- – Syncing Information and Devices
- – Diagnostics and Troubleshooting
- – Computers and Devices Setups
- – Network Setup and Support
- – Technology Education
- – Viruses and Malware Removal
- – Hardware Installation and Upgrades
- – Data Recovery and Backup Solutions
- – Software Installation and Configuration
When we initially talked, you mentioned that you always communicate with your clients in a way they can understand, rather than using ‘tech language’. You also said that you encourage clients to ask as many questions as they want, that so they have a more clear understanding of their computer(s).
Using ‘tech language’ can be frustrating for many people. I do my best to explain concepts in a way that makes total sense to everyone. I’m completely open to answering questions and helping people feel involved with the process. I enjoy helping clients understand technology so that they feel more comfortable using it.
You work both with Mac and PC, but another area of focus is smartphones and tablets. Can you tell us a little bit about the types of work you are doing here?
Most of this work involves synchronizing information between these devices so that they communicate important information with each other, such as: contacts, photos, notes, calendar events, documents, and even music.
What are some issues business people are dealing with that you can help resolve?
Many computers have insufficient resources to completely serve the business’ needs. I specialize in getting technology to run faster and more efficiently. This usually involves upgrading memory (RAM) and removing software that is slowing down the speed of the computer. It is also important that employees understand technology better, so that they can use it more effectively.
What does it mean when your computer is low on virtual memory?
When your computer is low on memory (RAM), it starts borrowing from the hard drive to compensate. This could potentially damage the operating system if left unchecked. The solution would be to either order more memory, or buy a new computer. As more and more information is stored, it becomes necessary to upgrade your computer’s ability to handle it.
Derek, can you tell us a little bit about your process when working with a client?
First, I determine what the issue is. Most of the time I can figure out what is needed over the phone. If I can’t, I go on-site to perform a diagnosis and come up with a solution. If I cannot complete the work on-site, I can bring the computer to my office where I have a greater array of tools and software to resolve most issues.
How do you determine how much effort to put into a project in order to keep it cost-effective?
I start by determining how old the technology is, and whether it’s worth putting money into. I consult with the client to determine what’s practical, and make recommendations based upon their budget. Sometimes it makes more sense to buy new equipment.
I understand that you are happiest when your clients present you with challenging projects. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
I love a good challenge and am prepared to take on the most advanced projects. I always learn more from expanding out of my comfort zone, and it feels great when I achieve a successful outcome. Many of my clients depend on me to handle difficult situations, and I really enjoy that.
How do you see technology continuing to shape our future, and what are you most excited about?
I foresee devices capable of generating enormous amounts of clean energy in the future. Everything will be a lot more automated, freeing up time to enjoy our lives more. Technology will incorporate more biological elements (living technology) and will reduce our need on outdated fossil fuels. Cars will be silent and much more energy-efficient. Devices like tablets and iPads will continue to evolve and become more advanced. Fiber optics will become a major way to connect the world. I’d have to say the most exciting thing for me is someday flying a spacecraft.
Derek, would you mind sharing a success story with us?
One of my favorite projects has been helping a local hotel replace all of the technology on their premises. There wasn’t much information to work with, so I had to figure out the entire network on my own. Their technology was outdated and desperately needed upgrading. Once everything was replaced, the result was more efficiency and happier employees.
How about an example of how you helped a client navigate through a difficult or stressful process?
I recently had a client that needed their iPhone erased due to technical difficulties. The phone wouldn’t complete the process due to a unique activation issue that Apple rarely encountered. It took their support team 10 days to offer a solution, and it was challenging for the client to be without their phone for that long. The effort to resolve the issue was well worth the time spent, and the client now has a trouble-free iPhone.
What have been some the best and your favorite qualities of working with business owners and residents in Ashland?
I am continuously amazed by the support and understanding that I have received from people in this area. When clients are happy and satisfied, it makes me feel good. The people in Ashland have an interest in working together for the greater good of everyone involved. This makes my job so much more rewarding. Being here in Ashland has been the best experience with people that I have ever had.
What makes you enjoy your work as much as you do?
Part of the fun are the unique situations that I encounter while working on projects. It seems like I am learning something new with every client that I help. I love a good challenge and am determined to find the answers I need, no matter what. The work I do can be as simple as removing a virus, to completely rebuilding an operating system.
The other part is the amazing people that I get to work with. They make my job easier and worth doing. I can’t imagine doing anything else right now. I have a career that excites and fulfills me.
Lastly, I want to mention that other than advertising in the LocalsGuide, your business in Ashland has been entirely grown from word-of-mouth referrals. Now that we’re doing this feature interview, I expect you’ll be quite busy.
Advertising in the LocalsGuide has definitely increased my business, along with referrals I get from my existing clients. I am anticipating more business, and am prepared to take it on as I prefer to be busy and more active.
Derek are there any last words or comments you would like to share with our readers?
I want to thank all of my clients for the opportunity they have given me to learn and grow, which had enabled me to serve them better. It has truly been an honor to work with so many amazing people and I look forward to many more great experiences in the future!
Personalized Computer Solutions